If Indiana Governor Mike Pence signs the bill that will legalize the discrimination of LGBT people based on "religious beliefs," the NFL, NCAA, Big Ten, USA Diving, USA Gymnastics and other sports entities should withdraw their planned events for the state immediately.
The proposed bill, which has passed the legislature and sits on Pence's desk, would make it legal for restaurant owners and hotel operators in Indianapolis to kick LGBT people out of their establishments in the state. Indianapolis is home to the NCAA, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.
When Arizona considered a similar bill two years ago, the NFL was poised to pull the Super Bowl from the state if the bill had been signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer. In her infinite wisdom, she vetoed that bill.
Now the Men's Final Four is set to take place in Indianapolis in less then two weeks. Jason Collins, who will be there reporting on the games for Yahoo Sports, wondered if he would face outward discrimination:
.@GovPenceIN, is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come to the #FinalFour? http://t.co/uBlKbIf8YK— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins98) March 23, 2015
There's no feasible way for the NCAA to move the Final Four from Indianapolis. Anyone calling for that can save their breath. The NCAA's national headquarters is in the city, after all. Even if it weren't, no one could logistically move the spectacle around those three college basketball games in 10 days. The 2015 Men's Final Four isn't going anywhere.
Ariz. can kiss sports events goodbye with new law
If Jan Brewer signs SB 1062 -- "the discrimination bill" -- into law, the state will lose revenue and the right to host sporting events including Super Bowl XLIX. The NFL owners meeting in Orlando, March 23-26.
Yet future sporting events will be forced to steer clear of Indiana. With the NCAA based there, many championships come through the state. And in the next two years, other big events are scheduled for the state:
- Big Ten Football Championship Game, Dec. 5, 2015
- NCAA Women's Final Four, April 3-5, 2016
- 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships, Aug. 13-16, 2015
- NFL Scouting Combine, February, 2016
- U.S. Diving Olympic Team Trials, June 18-26, 2016
It's bad enough that LGBT fans or members of the media like Collins and me could be subjected to legal discrimination by attending these events. But there are plenty of LGBT athletes and coaches who would be affected as well.
Josh Dixon is an out gay U.S. gymnast who will be competing there this August. USA Gymnastics cannot in good conscience host a national championship in a state where at least one of their competitors could be forced to leave a restaurant because he's publicly out as a gay man.
To be sure, sporting events will continue to happen in the state. The Indianapolis Colts aren't going to move back to Baltimore. The Indiana Pacers won't head west to Springfield, Ill. The Indianapolis 500 isn't going to take time off until the law gets repealed.
Yet these other events can and should find other homes. There are plenty of other cities that would welcome them tomorrow.